Friday, February 3, 2012

Finding the ray of sunshine!

At first glance you could say that the changes going on around us are frightening.  The country is in a constant state of change that is affecting so many people on many different levels.  Companies are letting go thousands of people, organizations are being challenged by inside and outside forces, families are either coming together or falling apart.  I am not immune to these ups and downs and a week after a big change in my own life, I am feeling hopeful.  It has been a long time since I have felt good about the direction of my life.  It is about time that I cleaned off my slate and took a good look at what I am contributing to the world.  Having a purpose is important to me and I am ready to figure out exactly what that purpose is.  Wish me luck!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Bruno and I have embarked on a journey! After 7 years together, I decided that we both need some official training and so enrolled in the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior.  Heard of "clicker training" or "TAG teaching?"  The school is based upon the idea that any living being is more likely to learn and repeat behaviors that result in consequences it likes or enjoys=Positive Reinforcement!  I have just begun the online portion and my mind is already spinning with the possibilities.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why I Volunteer

When I tell people I am a volunteer at the Kitsap Humane Society, the most common reactions are; “Wow, that is really great!” or, “How do you do that? I would get too sad or want to take all of the animals home with me.” There are a lot of people out there who have contemplated becoming a volunteer but believe it would just be too heart-breaking. And I must admit, I was one of them not too long ago.
Almost a year ago, I decided that I needed to get outside myself and my little world. Since I adore animals I figured I would check out the Humane Society. We adopted my Australian Shepherd, Sierra from KHS several years ago. She has brought us many joys so giving back to the place she “came from” seemed a good idea. I also decided that my kids needed to do for others as well-they were becoming way too comfortable in their cushy kid lives.
Still, I had questions about my and my family’s ability to handle potentially difficult situations; sick animals, animals being at the shelter for long periods of time, scared animals, aggressive animals, etc. etc. Would we be able to handle the responsibility of being volunteers? My significant other and I both work full-time and have kids with busy schedules. How would we fit in one more activity? Needless to say, we did fit it in and we don’t regret it at all!
In the beginning, we had to have conversations about the importance of this commitment, not only to the animals, but to ourselves. I feel better when I help others which in turn makes me a better Mother, Worker and Human Being. I feel like I can make a difference in the life of another and by doing so, I grow as a person. One of my favorite bumper stickers says “Action is the Remedy for Despair.” I am determined to live that motto!
The 2 older kids have slowly fallen off the volunteer wagon which I can’t say I am surprised about. We decided to not force them to go because we want them to decide for themselves that volunteerism is important. The only way we can encourage generosity in them is leading by example. My 10 yr old will start volunteering with me this Spring and so far is very excited about the prospect. He has already started with helping me teach Dog-Walking Classes at the shelter.
In a time when so many people are shutting down and feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I hope that they come to the Humane Society and see all the volunteers and decide to take action for themselves. I recently heard a local Doctor speak on his experiences as part of a Medical Response Team during Hurricane Katrina and more recently, the Earthquake in Haiti. He talked about how in order to thrive in this chaotic world, we have to stop being victims. He explained that we all have the choice to empower ourselves through helping others, through the giving of ourselves.

So if you are one of those people who has come up with excuses as to why you “can’t” volunteer, I challenge you to throw the excuses out the window. Choose to empower yourself, choose to take action, choose to give of yourself and your time, choose to volunteer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cleaning for the Cleaners?

I am one of those people who actually do care about what people think. And yes, I clean for the cleaners. I need to know that the person coming in my house TO CLEAN thinks my house is CLEAN. Call it OCD, call it just plain crazy. It is what it is. Coming home to a house that smells like bleach makes me happy-even if I cleaned it for the cleaners the day before. I do have to give myself a little break because there are 2 adults, 3 boys and 3 dogs that can demolish my hard work in 3 seconds. I could have a cleaner come in every day and they would have stuff to do. Today though, I came home to the wonderful smell of Clorox only to remember that I wrote on the calendar that they were supposed to come TOMORROW. OMG! I didn't clean yesterday! I had dirty clothes in the bathroom, dishes in the sink and GASP, dog hair in the entryway! My initial happiness was replaced by dismay. As I sit here at the computer though, looking at my clean living room, I still feel a little happy. I guess I'll get over it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

School has begun. And so have the homework struggles. My 5th grader informed me tonight that he is a "middle of the pack kind of guy." What is that supposed to mean?! I quickly turned into super-lecture Mommy and explained how he should always try his best, blah blah blah. He then proceeded to explain that he did not want to be teased because he was too smart. What? TOO smart? Ugh! He also said that people get teased for wearing glasses and having braces. Again, lecture mode descended upon me. What do glasses and braces have to do with being too smart? 10 minutes later, and no further progress on the homework, he wandered off with his befuddled mother watching him go. The stinker successfully sucked his super-smart mother into a nonsensical conversation and didn't have to get down to homework business for that much longer... I guess he is TOO smart...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How does life get away from you so fast? My son is now 10, my GSD is now 6 and my Aussie is now 10ish-and now we have another pack member. Peppe is a 10 year old Poodle mix from the Kitsap Humane Society where we volunteer. His story is not uncommon. When he arrived at the shelter, he was dirty, matted, half blind and quite cranky. His adoption chances were decent though as many people look for little dogs, even if they have health issues and are older. Unfortunately, Peppe also had a biting problem. He was adopted and returned because he bit his new companion. Luckily Peppe had some champions and they tried to find him a place with a rescue for blind dogs. In the meantime, he was waiting in his kennel/cage where I had to pass him when I was volunteering. One Sunday I decided he had waited long enough. I took Peppe home to "foster" him until he went to rescue and to work on his issues. Luckily again, Peppe had his champions at my house! The dogs accepted him grudgingly and lecture him whenever he gets uppity. He still has moments where he will let the kids know they are being too rambunctious for his taste. We decided to make him a permanent pack member and are helping him adjust to an active family!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kids and Music

Why is it that kids love to play the piano, but hate to practice? My son takes piano lessons once a week and is quite good. I remind him to play often, ok, sort of often and he totally avoids the suggestion. I have pretty much refused to take the blame for his non-piano practicing. He is old enough to take responsibility for his non-compliance with extra-curricular activities...wait a minute. I am the one who is paying for all of this! It's a good thing he does do well, even without practice. And he does like his teacher and being at the actual lesson. I do believe music is an essential part of a kid's development so I guess I will put up with the practice issue and continue to pay for lessons. Next year he will be eligible to play saxophone in the school band so I am going to enjoy the smooth sounds of the piano as long as I can!